Alexandria opts for share of opioid settlement money

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At its Monday night meeting, Alexandria City Council allowed staff to complete the process online to receive a tiny slice of the settlement money.

In a notice sent to state government subdivisions, including Alexandria, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said any subdivision that does not participate in the settlement cannot participate directly in any of the settlement funds, although the state of the subdivision is the establishment and the other participating subdivisions share the establishment funds.

An advisory committee was formed to decide how to allocate the funds.

City attorney Tom Jacobson said it would be better for the city to participate in the settlement rather than trying to do it on its own.

Under the deal, the three largest pharmaceutical distributors, McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen, and a manufacturer, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, agreed to pay $ 26 billion. A total of $ 22.7 billion is earmarked for participating states and subdivisions to address the impacts of the opioid crisis.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 50,000 people in the United States died of opioid-related overdoses in 2019. Opioid abuse and dependence, including prescription pain relievers, heroin and fentanyl, created a serious national crisis that affected public health. as well as social and economic well-being.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid abuse alone in the United States is $ 78.5 billion per year, including health care costs, loss of productivity, drug treatment and criminal justice involvement.

Eight street projects are expected to receive new overlays next year as part of the city’s local street improvements in 2022.

The streets include:

  • Jasmine Drive, County Road 22 to the east end.

  • Abbygail Drive, from Jasmine Drive to Jasmine Drive.

  • Derek Drive, from Jasmine Drive to Jasmine Drive.

  • Benjamin Drive, County Road 22 to Jasmine Drive.

  • The alleys between Jasmine, Abbygail and Derek Drives.

  • Highland Trail, from Latoka Drive to the east end.

  • Highland Court, from Highland Trail to the east end.

  • George Street, Nelson Street and Dale Street.

The total project budget is $ 403,189.

“This is probably one of the most important projects we do,” city engineer Tim Schoonhoven told city council. “This greatly extends the life of our streets.”

Council voted to approve $ 76,000 in engineering work for the project.

As in previous years, all streets will be tendered according to separate schedules and auctions will be adjusted to stay within the available budget.

The projects are included in the city’s capital improvement budget, with $ 283,189 from state aid maintenance funds and $ 120,000 from the city’s street program paving tax. .

Tuesday November 2 is Merill Reuben Kiehne Day in Alexandria.

The council proclaimed the day to celebrate Kiehne’s 100th birthday.

A longtime Douglas County resident, Kiehne built his first home on the corner of 12th Avenue and Jefferson Street in Alexandria and progressed in commercial construction management. He was instrumental in the construction of many public buildings – Alexandria Downtown Liquor, the Washington Elementary School expansion, Lincoln Elementary School, the Jefferson High School expansion, and the Community and Technical College. of Alexandria.

He also worked for the Lake Alexandria Region Health District for almost 20 years before retiring in 1984.

Kiehne earned the nickname “The Raspberry Man” because of his compassion for gardening, according to the proclamation. He raised four children in Alexandria with his wife, June, and he continues to live independently on Eighth Avenue East.

The purchase of a tractor and mower for the public works department turned out to be $ 7,920 more than expected.

Last August, the council authorized the purchase based on a quote of $ 37,471.

In early October, the city was notified that the actual estimate should have been $ 45,391. The regional sales representative apologized for the mistake and took responsibility for the mistake, said city administrator Marty Schultz.

Since the City has already signed the lease-purchase financing documents, the additional cost will come from the public works equipment fund, which should have a cash balance of $ 187,125 at the end of this year.

The council has agreed to accept a grant of $ 18,400 on behalf of the police department which will come from the state’s “Toward Zero Deaths” traffic program next year.

As in the past, police will partner with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office to use the money for enforcement, equipment, and administrative costs in efforts to curb impaired driving, speeding and wearing a seat belt.

The city will act as the fiscal agent for the grant.

Police Chief Scott Kent told council that with the Toward Zero Deaths 2021 grant, officers and deputies worked approximately 240 hours, drafted 106 tickets and made 21 arrests for offenses such as driving in a state of state. intoxication, current warrants, driving after license suspension or revocation, and other movement violations.

“Despite these local law enforcement efforts, we have continued to see an increase in traffic accidents, serious injuries and fatalities,” said Kent.

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